10 ways Ralek Gracie messed up Metamoris
After the success of Metamoris 3 in March 2014, Ralek Gracie and the professional grappling promotion he built appeared to be on the verge of becoming the UFC of professional grappling. Just 21 months later, Metamoris has fallen from grace due to operational issues, public relations missteps, and the rise of other professional grappling promotions. Here are 10 ways Ralek Gracie messed up Metamoris.
- Overspending: The first Metamoris event was held at the 12,800 seat Viejas Arena in San Diego, while the second event was held at the 13,800 seat Pauley Pavilion on the UCLA campus. Renting a a large arena isn’t cheap and when a large, cavernous arena draws a crowd of 1,500 it will look empty and lack the energy of a more intimate venue. The pre-fight countdown shows were really well done, but also likely cost a lot to produce. Combine that with the fighter salaries which were rumored to be above $10,000 for top level competitors with an equivalent win bonus was likely far higher than the market value and made it tougher for the events to break even.
- Too Many Draws: Five of the eight matches (62%) at Metamoris 6 ended in a draw. This was actually an improvement from Metamoris 5 where 5 of 6 matches (83%) ended in a draw. Draws are a mixed bag for fans since the big match-ups are left without a definitive winner and something just feels unresolved with a draw. Also, EBI and its unique overtime rules guarantees a winner and provides a feeling of resolution in the mind of the fans.
- Not Giving Eddie Bravo Credit: Metamoris 3 was a big hit due to the highly anticipated rematch between Royler Gracie and Eddie Bravo. This was the first Metamoris event held in a more intimate 700-seat venue rather than a large, quarter-filled sports arena. The rematch lived up to the hype as Gracie and Bravo battled to a 20-minute draw. Eddie Bravo held strong positions throughout the match and proved his first victory was no fluke. Both Bravo and Gracie could have walked away looking like heroes who showcased their warrior spirits. However, after the match Royce Gracie confronted Bravo and accused him of badmouthing his family. A few days later, Rener and Ryron Gracie released a heavily Royler biased edition of their popular Gracie Breakdown Youtube series. The BJJ community took notice and called BS on the Gracie family’s antics in trying to spin the perceptions of the match in their family’s favor. Their spin doctoring backfired as BJJ fans started to question the first family of martial arts.
- Trying to Screw EBI: Ralek Gracie was trying to build the BJJ equivalent of the UFC through Metamoris. While Metamoris was a global grappling phenomenon that featured many of the sport’s top stars, champions, and legends, Eddie Bravo started his own professional grappling event that featured both popular legends like Baret Yoshida and Jeff Glover as well as up-and-coming competitors like the Martinez brothers, Garry Tonon, and Denny Propokos. In a sport where athletes were free to compete various events and promoters respected each other’s projects, Ralek created a rumble by trying to sign away competitors committed to EBI. Ralek managed to sign Dillon Danis, who was already committed to compete at EBI 3, to an exclusive deal that only allowed Danis to compete at IBJJF, ADCC and Metamoris events. Ralek also offered a similar deal to Garry Tonon, but Tonon balked. When you connect the dots together, Ralek was trying to sign the top competitors committed to EBI 3 in order to crush the event.
- Screwing Garry Tonon: Garry Tonon nearly upset Kron Gracie at ADCC, won the first EBI, and won two matches at Metamoris. He was becoming very popular on internet forums with his exciting and fast paced, grappling style. Tonon reportdly had a deal to compete against Joe Lauzon at Metamoris 6, but he had to sign an exclusive deal with Metamoris and back out of a commitment at EBI 3 in order to seal the deal. Tonon balked at Ralek’s request and was then replaced by Dillon Danis at the event. Ralek argued for the need for competitor exclusivity but then allowed Metamoris veteran Keenan Cornelius to compete at a tournament in Guam for $10,000 a week after EBI 3 while still competing at Metamoris 6.
- Disrespecting Female Competitors: Ralek was hammered for the lack of inclusion of female competitors at Metamoris events. In fairness, many of the top female competitors have squared off numerous times in IBJJF and ADCC events around the world. While Ralek did have the opportunity to explain his rationale and/or create compelling match ups between top female competitors in BJJ, MMA, and Judo, he instead opted for along and awkward video that has since been taken down caused further alienation. He tried to signMacKenzie Dern for a last minute match at Metamoris 6, but Dern declined due to the last minute offer, triaining for IBJJF Worlds, and low financial compensation. The more Ralek tried to defend his decision and actions, the further he dug himself into a hole with BJJ fans.
- Untrustworthy Online Site and Automatic Renewals: Rather than partnering with an established producer of live grappling events such as BudoVideos, Metamoris built their own pay-per-view streaming site that also collected customer information. Unfortunately, the site wasn’t properly setup to securely handle online credit card transactions and left customers’ credit card data open to cyber theft. Also, if you ordered one event, there was a bug or error in their transaction system that automatically renewed customers for future events or enrolled customers into the monthly subscription for the Metamoris site. The lack of customer service or any form of response to customers burnt bridges between the Ralek and his promotion and the BJJ community.
- Losing a Major Investor: While Ralek’s family has done well with their academy in Torrance and online instruction site, Ralek relied on a wealthy investor who loved BJJ in order to make Metamoris into a reality. Sometime after Metamoris 5, Ralek lost this major investor which explains why Metamoris 6 was staged at the Blackhouse Gym rather than a larger venue with seating. The loss of the investor could be due to a number of reasons, but is most likely due to heavy financial losses and a poor return on investment. Hey, even rich folks have budgets. In addition to negatively impacting the event production, the loss of the sugar daddy investor also limited Ralek’s marketing activities.
- Screwing Metamoris Challengers Competitors: Ralek Gracie announced his ambitious plans to launch a 24 city Metamoris Challengers event throughout the United States. Unfortunately, Ralek scheduled the event on the same day as NoGi Pans, which pulled many top NoGi competitors from the Metamoris Challengers events. Once Ralek realized his event had overextended itself and there weren’t enough competitors to justify 24 venues, he consolidated the events, but didn’t offer registered competitors a chance for a refund. Instead, if you were from Portland, Oregon and registered for the Seattle event, you were instead told to compete at the Los Angeles event. If you couldn’t swing the travel costs, you were basically screwed out of your entry fee.
- Ugh, a Warehouse: You know something isn’t going right with Metamoris when it goes from an electrifying, sold out venue to a converted MMA gym not too far from South Central Los Angeles. Metamoris 6 was a pretty sterile event compared to its predecessors. Competitors were limited to 2 corner men and no tickets for friends and families. However, there was plenty of room and tickets for Ralek’s family who were there to support his brother Ryron Gracie who competed in the main event against Josh Barnett.Joe Lauzon, who competed against Dillon Danis at the event, reported delays in receiving full payment for his participation.